A Mess In The House: Dirty Pool As Rep. Schiff Inserts Loophole To Help The FBI Spy On You

from the doesn't-the-4th-amendment-matter dept

As the debate continues over the renewal of some Patriot Act provisions for NSA surveillance techniques, the House now has a chance to correct a failure by the Senate, by one measly vote, to require a warrant for the FBI to go sifting through your internet histories that the NSA scooped up along the way. The intelligence community refuses to reveal how often this is done, but Senator Wyden is indicating that it’s a lot more than you think — and he’s been right pretty much every time he’s made those suggestions.

It’s now up to the House, and while Rep. Lofgren had a version of the warrant requirement amendment, some petty political squabbling from Democratic leadership threatened to quash it — mainly by Rep. Adam Schiff inserting a massive loophole to allow for more warrantless surveillance. Earlier on Tuesday it was reported that, after a long weekend of haggling, it appeared that a vote will be allowed on Lofgren’s Amendment and that the language had been cleared up to the point that even Senator Wyden backed it:

?After extensive bicameral, bipartisan deliberations, there will be a vote to include a final significant reform to Section 215 [of the USA Patriot Act] that protects Americans? civil liberties,? Lofgren, a Democrat of California, said. ?Without this prohibition, intelligence officials can potentially have access to information such as our personal health, religious practices, and political views without a warrant,? she added.


The Lofgren-Davidson amendment will require the FBI to obtain a warrant even if there?s only a possibility that the data it seeks is tied to a U.S. person. If the government wishes to access the IP addresses of everyone who has visited a particular website, it could not do so without a warrant unless it can ?guarantee? that no U.S. persons will be identified.

Wyden’s support was seen as critical, because if he felt that Schiff had torpedoed the Amendment he wouldn’t support the amendment. So the original reports saying that he was on board, was a good sign. He even put out a detailed statement in support.

Then, the full language came out, and Schiff appeared to torpedo the whole deal anyway by telling the NY Times that the amendment didn’t really do anything anyway:

But in his own statement, Mr. Schiff put forward a narrower emphasis. Stressing the continued need to investigate foreign threats, he described the compromise as banning the use of such orders “to seek to obtain” an American’s internet information.

Soon after Wyden pulled his support of the bill, realizing that Schiff was making a ridiculous interpretation to allow for more spying on American’s internet browsing habits:

?The House Intelligence Committee chairman?s assertion that the Lofgren-Davidson amendment does not fully protect Americans from warrantless collection flatly contradicts the intent of Wyden-Daines, and my understanding of the amendment agreed to earlier today. It is now clear that there is no agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to enact true protections for Americans? rights against dragnet collection of online activity, which is why I must oppose this amendment, along with the underlying bill, and urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment,? Wyden said.

Again, however, I remain perplexed about Schiff trying to water this down. Remember, Schiff was literally the House manager of the Trump impeachment campaign, and more than anyone, Schiff has a front row seat to how this President has politicized all aspects of government at his disposal. You would think that’s a good enough reason to pass a bill that would protect American citizens from being spied on by the FBI without a warrant (as, I should mention, the Constitution requires). Why would that be at all controversial? I get that Schiff comes from a background where he has traditionally had a kneejerk support for greater law enforcement and intelligence powers — but given what he knows about this administration, it’s crazy that he wouldn’t want to restrict those powers in the hands of someone who still regularly seems to threaten his political opponents, including Schiff.

Of course, as all of this was happening, the President himself urged his supporters in Congress to vote against the bill anyway, so who the hell knows what’s going on any more anyway. What is clear is that Congress had a real chance to make sure the FBI had to live under the 4th Amendment, and it appears that it has failed to do so, so far.

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Comments on “A Mess In The House: Dirty Pool As Rep. Schiff Inserts Loophole To Help The FBI Spy On You”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Biden?

Did to Flynn? Flynn did himself.
Not that i’m an Obama cheerleader in the slightest, but do you imagine Schiff thinks that starting soon, Democrats will run the Presidency and Congress forever? Hardly.
He’s has a fear/surveillance/authoritarian streak just like most of these meatbags, just not the exact flavor in favor enough during the 2016 elections.

Thinking one is (still unConstitutionally) empowering just the next guy (how does that work?) on a bet that one’s fav guy will win is… well i don’t see much in the way of practical intelligence or sense in these folks, but Schiff is not dumb like that. He wants a surveillance state for its own sake and out of fear… fear of an attack, or just fear that accusations of "you should have done that thing" will fly if an attack happens or is even averted.

It has little to do with screwing with some other dumbass or two in the upper echelons of goverment.

There are plenty Obama could have (and should have) burned at the stake, but wasn’t good enough a guy to do it. Flynn? Pffft, another Ollie North wannabe who will walk away with more than anything he "lost".

Richard M (profile) says:

Not all that different after all

Just one more things that shows a good share of the Democrats are not all that different than most of the Republicans.

While the Republicans are more outwardly evil when push comes to shove most of the politicians in either party cares about the people they are supposed to be representing. All they care about giving themselves more power and money.

I said a good share not all…

Yes Trump is the worst President I have seen in my lifetime and I remember Nixon. Even though I am not a Biden fan he will be better than Trump without even trying.

So no I am not saying that Trump is not any worse than the Democrats.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Not all that different after all

There are issues where the two parties are disconcertingly similar — criminal justice is one of them; copyright is another — and there are issues where they’re very, very different.

It’s absolutely worthwhile to point out when Democrats fail us; they’re not above criticism. To suggest that they’re "a good share of the Democrats are not all that different than most of the Republicans" is to suggest that women’s rights, minority rights, and LGBT rights are trivial and insignificant.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Adam Schiff is a traitor to the United States. He knowingly used known Russian disinformation tailored to wreak havoc in the US and propel his coup against the Trump administration, and put his reputation on the line to assert that it wasn’t disinfo, but legitimate intelligence worthy of launching investigations over. He literally aided a foremost geopolitical foe of the US in this process.

This was treason. Rendering aid and comfort to an enemy. It couldn’t have succeeded without the backing of traitors in America’s midst. Schiff and Brennan; two traitors whom I will greatly enjoy seeing meet justice.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Using the methods laid out in the Constitution to conduct an investigation into clear abuse by the President… is "treason"? I’ve never been a fan of Schiff. He’s wrong about many things, but arguing that this is treasonous is utter derangement.

Seriously, back away from whatever shithole you’ve been getting information from and get back to reality.

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Anonymous Coward says:

i think it’s about time that Americans woke up to the fact that any and all governments, regardless of who is the ‘figure head’ are being run by behind the scenes folk who want to remove every minute aspect of privacy and freedom from us all! every day another part of the Constitution is chipped away by judges who obviously want the same thing. as long as those people are safe from any type of scrutiny, any kind of behavioral examination, any type of check for wrong doing, the rights of Americans, particularly now, it seems, domestic rights are being removed faster than a Santa Pod race car and in the main, it’s being done by those we’ve voted into the positions to look after us and our interests! the really sad thing is, that even knowing what they are doing, we vote the fuckers back in every time!!

A huge distraction - elections. Get real. says:

Dog & Pony Show - Pure & Simple - Campaigning for 2 years?

A hugh distraction designed to divert attention – all of it! For years at a time and all kinds of restrictions why "real" people cannot participate ($$).

Say/do anything to keep the blinders on. A "show" legislature – in name only. Now go watch TV or sports. A process that could work if only allowed to work. Slight of hand/mind/mouth…

Get real.

One who has observed the process for nearly a century.

Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Dog & Pony Show - Pure & Simple - Campaigning for 2 years?

I still view it as a Punch and Judy show.

Examples of the two factions fighting each other (or not) to achieve the same authoritarian goals are ubiquitous. Sometimes it is simply a situation where "If my faction wants it, it is good, but if your faction wants it, it is bad" even though "it" may be exactly the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Politics is a distraction
Voting is selfish
Wake me up when we have Congressional Term Limits

Every 4 years people get "concerned", as if the Electoral College must vote WITH the popular vote – as if your presidential vote actually counts. All the while, Congress comes together, like Kumbaya, to vote for their pay raises and against Congressional Term Limits. Congressmen/women have 2 goals: re-election and/or being rehired as lobbyist for the company that’s been buying laws through them.

Go back to sleep…nothing to see here…

Anonymous Coward says:

Disband the FBI

The FBI has been associated with virtually all of the domestic terrorist suspects that have been arrested over the past few decades. They in fact are the ones who recruited and trained those suspects. Maybe its time to get rid of the source of these threats and stop giving them the ability to violate our rights since they clearly don’t care about faking terrorism to boost their numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:

In a recent previous article the discussion was about liberal bias in reporting on Techdirt.

From this article here is a prime example:

"Remember, Schiff was literally the House manager of the Trump impeachment campaign, and more than anyone, Schiff has a front row seat to how this President

has politicized all aspects of government at his disposal."

Could it not be that Obama, Hillary, Pelosi and others ate equally if not more guilty since they have been in government longer?

Lance (profile) says:


I think the question near the end about Schiff is actually very simple. He knows that everything associated with the Trump campaign surveillance was political and not about crime or protecting American citizens. He believes that the surveillance in the bill at issue is necessary to thwart terror and protect citizens. So, the two issues are completely disconnected in his mind. He would never consider the abuses toward the executive branch to be relevant in deciding what to do about actual crime.

me says:

Smile. You're on hidden camera.

" …but given what he knows about this administration… "

Perhaps the point here should be "…given what the Trump Administration has discovered/manufactured about Schiff, and threatened to disclose publicly."
Blackmail is after all, a pretty standard part of most crime organization’s tactics.
I wonder if they pulled the old ‘dead hooker in the bedroom’ trick. That one always works. 🙂

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